ANAHEIM – The Buffalo Sabres hope to open their three-game road trip on a winning note Wednesday night.
Buffalo has been shut out in back-to-back games and hopes to respond well not only to that, but to their last game against the Anaheim Ducks, a 5-1 loss at home on Oct. 13, as well. Michal Neuvirth started that game for Buffalo and he’ll be back in the net against them again Wednesday night when the two teams wrap up their season series against each other.
Puck drop is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. EST. The Tops Gamenight pregame show begins at 10 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Defenseman Tyler Myers, who has led all Sabres skaters in ice time in each of the team’s six games this season, ranks ninth in the League with an average of 25:49 of ice time per game. Back when Myers was a rookie in 2009-10, he led the Sabres in average ice time, skating 23:44 per game.
He’s also tied for the team-lead in shots on goal with 15. Sabres coach Ted Nolan would like to see the team shoot the puck more and Myers thinks those chances will come once they start improving their possession numbers. Buffalo has been outshot 227-141 so far this season.
“It gets back to as a group, we need to control the puck more,” Myers said. “As a five-man unit on the ice right now, there are some things we need to clean up that will allow us to have more opportunities in the offensive zone. But right now we’re spending a little too much time in our own end.”
The Sabres took part in a lively practice on Tuesday that featured some pretty competitive battles and a bit more physicality. They hope that can elevate it when it comes time to face off against Anaheim.
“It starts in practice and yesterday there was a little bit of feistiness involved,” Nolan said. “Maybe we’ve reached that point where we realize we have to compete.”
The players have been fans of the more up-tempo practices.
“We have to practice like we want to play. If we don’t we’re not doing anything to help ourselves,” Myers said. “The pace lately has picked up and it’s been a lot better. We need to translate that over.”
Anaheim won 3-0 over St. Louis on Sunday and has won five in a row. Wednesday’s game is the third of a five-game homestand for the Ducks. They opened the season on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip that included the game in Buffalo.
“We know they’re a good team. Last time, we didn’t play them the way we wanted to,” Sabres forward Torrey Mitchell said. “We just need to bear down on our chances, stick together and play hard and we’ll have an opportunity to win.”
Rookie Sam Reinhart will be back in the lineup after sitting out Saturday as a healthy scratch.
PROJECTED LINEUP AGAINST ANAHEIM
26 Matt Moulson – 63 Tyler Ennis – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 19 Cody Hodgson – 80 Chris Stewart
17 Torrey Mitchell – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 21 Drew Stafford
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 23 Sam Reinhart – 8 Cody McCormick
4 Josh Gorges – 57 Tyler Myers
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
61 Andre Benoit – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
34 Michal Neuvirth
1 Jhonas Enroth
Healthy Scratches: 24 Tyson Strachan, 51 Nikita Zadorov, 65 Brian Flynn
Injured Reserve: 31 Matt Hackett, 36 Patrick Kaleta